FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 15, 2009
Contact: Robert Preston, Jr.,
GACHIP: Making Georgia safer for children
In an effort to help make Georgia safer for children and families, the
Douglas Masonic Lodge, South Georgia College and other community
organizations are hosting a Georgia Child Identification Program (GACHIP)
event in the ballroom upstairs in the Engram Union at South Georgia College
on Saturday, May 23 at 9 a.m.
The event is open and free to all children aged four to sixteen. Children must
be accompanied by a parent.
GACHIP is a program that gathers important information about a child –
including height, weight, fingerprints, any identifying scars or marks, etc.
– and stores it on a computer disk. The program also takes molds of a
child’s teeth and a DNA sample. Also included is an on-camera interview. The
information is processed and given to the parents when they leave the venue
that day. In the event that a child goes missing, parents must simply give
that packet of information to law enforcement when the report is filed.
Having that information on-hand saves valuable time in those crucial first
hours after a child goes missing.
GACHIP has three basic guiding principles: 1) Privacy; 2) Correct and
accurate information for law enforcement use; and 3) Free to all citizens of
Privacy of personal information is a required basic feature. Even though a
lot of information such as height, weight, address, etc., is provided during
this process, the Masons retain absolutely none of it. When the computerized
portion of the program is completed, all the data is formatted into a paper
printout and burned onto a disk before being deleted from the computer's
hard drive, leaving it unrecoverable. This basic data is supplemented by
digital finger prints (of all 10 fingers), several digital photographs, and
a digital interview.
The one feature that sets this program totally apart from all other programs
is the use of a dental imprint called Toothprints. This feature was
developed by Dr. David Tesini, a Massachusetts pediatric dentist, and was
incorporated into GACHIP by Dr. David Harte, a Massachusetts Mason. The
dental impression gives a three-dimensional map of all of the child's teeth
and collects DNA samples and scent for tracking dogs. These valuable
additions make GACHIP the most comprehensive ID program available. An
important feature of GACHIP is that it is free. GACHIP cost nothing more
than a small amount of time -- 6.24 minutes per child on average.
Since January 2008, GACHIP has held 195 events statewide and processed 21,
280 children. As impressive as this might be, there remains much to be done,
considering there are 1.62 million children in Georgia alone.
Co-sponsors for the Douglas event include Douglas Masonic Lodge No. 386,
Satilla Masonic Lodge No. 163, South Georgia College, The American Legion
Post 18, The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5976 and the Order of the Eastern
Star Chapter 325.
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About South Georgia College
South Georgia College (www.sgc.edu)
was founded in 1906 and is a two-year institution in the University System
of Georgia. Located in Douglas, Ga., the college's environment gives
students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close
collaboration with faculty.